29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day– yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God– I say this to your shame. 35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:29-44 NIV)
We have spent the past two weeks at our house at the coast. We enjoy it while we are there, but the trip out is getting harder and harder. We know that the number of our future trips is limited and we have begun preparing for living in one house all the time again. One of the things I did on this trip was disassemble the table saw so it could go in my car to be brought back home. We are done with projects at the coast and have many overdue projects to complete at home. The process of taking the table saw apart was not difficult to understand, but the effort required was far more than I expected it to be. All of this to say that my body is wearing out. After a couple of hours of removing nuts from bolts I was exhausted. I do not need much convincing to realize that this body is perishable. It is temporary.
Since our body is temporary how should we live? Paul explains that how we live our lives as Christians makes no sense if there is no resurrection. He begins with a strange illustration to get everyone’s attention. Apparently, some in the church had adopted the practice of being baptized for the dead. He makes no comment on whether this is effective. He simply notes it makes no sense if there is no resurrection. Similarly, it makes no sense to endure persecution and risk a painful death if this life is all there is.
Paul’s main point in this section is the importance of the resurrection from the dead. In making this point he cannot ignore that some are living as if this life is all there is. They are spending their lives joining in the sinful activities of those who believe this life is all there is. Jesus often shared a meal around a table with sinners and so should we. The difference is that He did this to build relationship and invite sinners to follow Him and leave their old sinful lifestyle behind. The believers Paul is concerned about are not seeking to draw their friends into a lifestyle of following Jesus but are instead returning to the lifestyle they had committed to leave when they chose to follow Jesus. They are living a lifestyle that says they believe this life is all there is, while proclaiming that they believe in a resurrected life to come.
I am incredibly grateful for Paul’s final point. The body I live in now is no more like my resurrected body will be than an acorn is like an oak tree. There is something of the acorn in the oak tree and there will be something of me in my resurrected body, but it will be much different. I do not know if the DNA will be the same. What I do know is that all the things that tell me that this body is temporary will be gone. My father’s experience tells me that I may have a while to wait for that new body. I pray that I will have the wisdom and strength to live a life in my current body that reflects a strong confidence that someday I will have new and indestructible body.